F.D. Maurice's experience of Unitarianism and its place in his life and thought

Young, David (1989). F.D. Maurice's experience of Unitarianism and its place in his life and thought. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000fc2c


This thesis looks at the Anglican theologian Frederick Denison Maurice (1805-72) in the light of Unitarianism, the religious background of his family, with an historical introduction tracing Unitarianism from C.I7OO-I85O. Five biographical perspectives examine (i) Maurice's childhood, suggesting that his concern with the Fatherhood of Cod, opposition to the penal substitutionary view of the atonement and rejection of original sin are derived from his father's influence; (ii) his progress towards Anglicanism and emotional needs expressed in his novel Eustace Conway; (iii) Maurice's response to Romanticism, indebtedness to the Creek Fathers, the influence of S T Coleridge, Thomas Erskine, and Robert Hall; (iv) friendships with Unitarians, especially Henry Solly; (v) work in London as hospital chaplain, Christian Socialist and educationist. Part Three looks at aspects of Maurice's theology and assesses debt to Unitarianism. His teaching was undergirded by belief in Cod as a loving Father; there was a life-long search for human unity grounded in the unity of Cod; a view of atonement stressing Christ's eternal union with the Father and mankind; humanity seen in Christ, but drawing on the Unitarian insistence on the potential of all human life; and a concept of eternal life which precluded dogmatic statements as to the fate of the wicked. Maurice's teaching on the church, sacraments and ministry is compared with the mid-nineteenth century Unitarian position. Maurice perceived the Church of England in terms so personal that Unitarians wondered how he could remain an Anglican, but the central place Maurice gave to Christ as executant of the Father s Will and Head and Centre of humanity meant Unitarianism was not an option. Maurice is a channel for a Unitarian contribution to contemporary thinking on incarnation, the nature of Cod, and inter-faith relations.

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